I found Molly McHugh’s article on Saving cash on college textbooks: E-book rental services compared  a really interesting read. The concept of e-book rental is a definite direction for student content and, as devices become better and more widely used, the consumer will want to access content rather than buy physical books – it makes perfect sense. It therefore makes absolute sense too that a student should be able to access content from anywhere and at any time. Content which still has all the same practical use as physical copies; so it can be annotated, has built in dictionaries, is cheaper; is more likely to be a latest edition, AND isn’t out on loan already (like my experience of books from college libraries back in the 90’s!). It is a very sensible move indeed, in my view.

This is all great news for the student but is it good news for the publisher? Publishers will probably need to invest in systems to make sure they can create, supply and account for these sales. Publishers will also need to make sure that the content is revised more often, as students expect high standards in digital content, which will also be an added expense. And, of course, with digital there is the opportunity to “enhance” the book – again, all for extra pennies. It’s not all negative though, with digital access there is the possibility of a hugely widened audience so volume could offset all these potential costs.

I can imagine a world where quality will be king; the better the book, the better the online reviews, the more the downloads! Across all media we are seeing a shift from ownership to access and publishers like all media will need to pay close attention to their business models to make sure this is sustainable.

Do you have an opinion on the above? If so, please feel free to comment in the box below.